New industrial relations laws passed by the Federal Parliament today are a major step forward for working Australians and the nation.

The laws will provide working families with stronger rights and protection in the economic downturn, says the ACTU.

They give employees strong collective bargaining rights and represent the beginning of a new era of industrial relations that promises to be good for both working families and the economy.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the passage of the Fair Work Law marks an historic moment in restoring workers’ rights.

“After a decade of attacks on working people by the Liberal and National Parties the tide has turned,” said Ms Burrow.

“While the Liberal Party remains hopelessly devoted to WorkChoices, the Australian people want workers’ rights restored.

“Everyone involved in the Your Rights at Work Campaign and all those who voted against WorkChoices will be relieved to see the laws pass through Parliament.

“We can take pride in what we have achieved.”

Ms Burrow said the new laws would deliver:

• Genuine rights for workers to collectively bargain and be represented by their union.

• Unfair dismissal protection for all workers — with workers in smaller businesses having a longer qualifying period.

• A robust new safety net of awards and national standards, along with a fair and transparent process for setting minimum wages.

• An industrial umpire with the teeth to safeguard workers’ rights.